The U.S. military, the most powerful military in the world, has a severe morale problem.
A Military Times survey of 2,300 active-duty troops conducted in July-August 2014, found morale indicators on the decline in nearly every aspect of military life. Troops report significantly lower overall job satisfaction, diminished respect for their superiors, and a declining interest in re-enlistment compared to just five years ago.
In Part One of a 3-part series, “America’s Military: A force adrift,” Hope Hodge Seck reports for Military Times, Dec. 7, 2014, that after 13 years of war — the war in Afghanistan is now the longest U.S. war — America’s all-volunteer military is entering an era fraught with uncertainty and a growing sense that the force has been left adrift. Today’s service members say they feel underpaid, under-equipped and under-appreciated. Troops say morale has sharply declined over the last five years, and most of those in uniform today believe their quality of life will only get worse. Compared to 2009, more are unhappy with their pay and health care, and very few trust that senior leaders fully support them.
Here are the findings of the survey:
1. Quality of life
- In 2009, 91% of active-duty troops rated their overall quality of life to be good or excellent.
- In 2014, only 56% thought so.
- Worse still, 70% in 2014 believe their “quality of life will decline in coming years.”
2. Pessimism about post-9/11wars
- The survey found 52% said they had become more pessimistic about the war in Afghanistan in recent years.
- Nearly 60% felt the war in Iraq was somewhat unsuccessful or not at all successful.
3. Pay and allowances
Congress this year capped the military pay raise at 1% instead of the 1.8% that would have kept pace with average annual growth in private-sector wages. It was the first military pay raise since 1999 that did not at least keep pace with private-sector wages, and it was also the lowest annual military pay raise in 40 years.
- In 2009, 87% of active-duty troops who participated in Military Times‘ survey rated their pay and allowances “good” or “excellent.”
- In 2014, the figure was just 44%.
4. evaluation of superiors
On whether military officers are good or excellent:
- In 2009, 78% regarded their officers overall to be good or excellent.
- In 2014, that percentage fell to 49%.
On whether “senior military leadership has my best interests at heart”:
- In 2009, 53% agreed.
- In 2014, only 27% agreed.
5. Health care
- In 2009, 78% rated their military health care as good or excellent.
- In 2014, only 45% similarly rated their healthcare.
6. Military supplies and equipment
On whether “people in the military are supplied with the best possible equipment”:
- In 2009, 47% agreed.
- In 2014, 36% agreed.
7. Recommend military career to others
- In 2009, 85% of troops would recommend a military career to others.
- In 2014, 73% of troops would recommend a military career to others.
8. Desire to reenlist
- In 2009, 72% said they intended to re-enlist.
- In 2014, 63% said they would re-enlist. Military Times says “Many of them hang on only because prospects for good civilian jobs have been dismal for many years. And often those who do land good jobs on the outside are those the military can least afford to lose.”
Read the full Military Times article, here.
H/t Consortium’s M.S.
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